As husband-and-wife marriage therapists, we are as big of proponents for marriage than most anyone is. As Christian marriage therapists we are even bigger believers in prayer and the redeeming power of God. We believe there is nothing that He can’t do and that nothing is impossible for Him.

But does that always mean He will heal and redeem every marriage? Sadly, no.
While God is indeed a miracle worker, often when it comes to our relationships, He wants us to play a role in the redemption process too.

He can bring forth change, and we’re all capable of being changed. In fact, He is the only One who never changes. As for our change, He can prompt us, intervene, and call us to obedience, but we have ownership in listening, receiving, and applying what He invites us to do. 
So, should you stop praying? No, of course not—but what you pray may need to change, and where you’re praying from may need to change too.

If you’ve been praying over and over for your husband, your husband who consistently and chronically, calls you names, belittles you, gaslights you, or emotionally, physically, or spiritually abuses you; your husband who blames you for everything and takes no ownership for anything or makes no changes whatsoever, it’s time to pause. He is not a man who is listening to or responding to God.

God can and will change the heart of a husband who listens and responds, but He will never force his heart to change. Your husband must be a willing participant. 

Praying for your husband and marriage will never be wrong, but sometimes it needs to involve some action, too. You can pray while you decide not to tolerate any more abuse or toxicity. The hard truth is that even while praying, you still often get what you’re willing to tolerate, and that’s why it’s important to know that you can pray while you also place boundaries. You can even pray while you’re separated. And if you’re confused about any of it, you can change your prayer to “God, help me to see the truth.” He will show you.
So many times, Christian women stay in a destructive marriage because it’s the Godly wife thing to do. Sometimes they stay because they’re confused, and sometimes they stay because they’re in denial and want so badly for their marriage to work. And, sometimes they stay because no one has told them that the Lord loves them more than He loves marriage.

If this is you, let us be the first to tell you that God will never ask you to be abused in His name. You are His daughter and how you are treated matters. 

Now, let’s close on some good news, shall we? God still does answer prayer, but sometimes what He uses the most to bring forth change is the consequences of unchanged and unrepented behavior and choices. You taking a stand and saying, “No more!”, may very well be the exact thing He uses to bring forth that change you’ve been praying for the whole time. In fact, those boundaries are your husband’s best chance at becoming the man God called him to be in the first place, and without them he’s just incentivized to stay the same.

God knows what your husband and your marriage need. Pray, act if needed, and trust His process. 

If you need some more help and resources for your marriage, check out the Expedition Marriage website and podcast. 

And, if you really want to specifically pray for your husband, check out our free 30 day Praying for your Husband Challenge.